Presentations began Friday morning opening with an insightful view of the global landscape of Aromatherapy delivered by Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt, who had us all chuckling as he retold the creation story from the perspective of aromatic molecules.
The oration was compelling and mind expansive as he pointed out how corporate science limits our perspective of the effects of essential oils.
David Crow, my first teacher of aromatics, enchanted us with a dialogue on Cosmic Chemistry challenging us to a collective awakening with an intention of creating a sustainable spiritual culture. In the presentation he included footage of growers and distillers of Helichrysum italicum that he has been working with in Corsica. Although the region is known for abundant amounts of the golden flowering shrub the plant is suffering due to ecological factors. David shared how even the smallest shifts in a culture can have dramatic affects on the plants. For example, helichrysum is happiest when it has lots of space and is alone. If the sheep are present, they will eat all the shrubs and weeds that grow around helichrysum, giving her plenty of room to branch out while remaining in solitude. However, the goat and sheep herders of Corsica have now taken on work as tour guides rather than herding thus the plants that use to be cleared by the animals now infringe on the helichrysum impending her abundant growth.
On Saturday afternoon I presented “The Tree of Life: A Mystical Approach to the Art of Botanical Perfumery” a rather esoteric impression on art, alchemy and perfume, offering an alternate perspective on learning. I began with the history of botanical perfume, going all the way back to the 1st scent molecules produced by the conifers progressing to todays modern botanical perfumers which holds the seeds of aromatherapy, art, herbalism and alchemy. The tree, with its abundant use in spiritual and philosophical doctrines became the anchor emblem as I took the audience on a Delphic journey. The piece was somewhat theatrical in its delivery with a moving feast of imagery orchestrated by Greg. Following the lecture I shared my process on how to create a botanical perfume using the systems highlighted in the slide show. Here is a portion of the lecture which Greg graciously labored many hours into to make it into a video.
“The audience was delighted, almost stunned, by the beauty and power of Roxana’s presentation.”
~ Gabriel Mojay
On Sunday, the last day of the conference, I was able to catch two morning presentations. The first was “Staying Healthy through the Seasons with Aromatherapy and Ayurvedic Principals” with Jade Shutes. The interaction workshop began with an introduction to the Five Element Theory of Ayurveda followed by a four page questionnaire to ascertain our particular dosha. Most of us were a combination of two, such as Vata/Pitta. Of all the wonderous information gathered through out the conference this workshop was the most practical for me, which I continue apply daily with new insights about the current season, myself and beneficial practices.
Next was one of my personal favorite authors in the field of Aromatherapy, Gabriel Mojay with Aromasophia: The Symbolic Meanings and Traditional Medicinal Uses of Key Aromatic Plants; The Aromatherapeutic Value of Such Study. Gabriel took us on a very in depth overview of Rosemary and Rose from the arcane to the scientific, with gorgeous imagery to accompany his voice.
There were a total of fourteen lectures and six workshops during the three days, along with an exhibitor area and lots of opportunities for conversation. On Monday, following the conference Cathy Skipper from France led a post conference workshop titled “Looking at the way essential oil’s different layers of action help to heal the ‘whole’ person.” which had students in the evergreen forest that lines the campus of Bastyr.
Each attendee of the conference was given a organic hemp shopping bag containing a variety of goodies including essential oils, hydrosols and a plethora of wonderful bath and body products. My personal favorite has been the Rasayana Body
Oil by Lady of the Lotus.
The fragrance industry is a vast, dynamic landscape of products labeled as perfume, articulated by variances in the raw materials being utilized and how the scented items are formulated. Adding more complexity is a varied spectrum of business models from large fragrance houses (some of which have existed over one hundred years) to the uber niche perfumers hand making items in their kitchens. Never before, in the history of the field of fragrance, have we had such a range.
Aromatherapy is a branch of the Tree of Herbalism aligned with those practicing botanical perfume, a segment of fragrance makers consciously choosing to work with a restricted palette of whole ingredients without isolates and/or animal product.
The Beyond Aromatics conference was such a powerful yet sweet event, compromised of healers and those working directly with plants. I feel so extremely grateful to have been part of this community and the opportunity to share what I have gleaned as an artist and promoter of nature. It was also a thrill to be amongst my piers and authors I’ve admired since 1996 such as Valerie Cooksley and Gabriel Mojay.
Photos: Roxana Villa, Gergely Hollodi, Gabriel Mojay and Greg Spalenka